Comment by Joey on [deleted post] 2019-01-17T22:11:01.718Z

Comment by joey on Cause profile: mental health · 2018-12-31T22:30:54.369Z · score: 29 (17 votes) · EA · GW

Really interesting post, but I do want to flag a big concern I have in the comparative calculation. Broadly, estimated effects are almost always just going to be way more positive than well studied effects. For example if you estimated GD’s impact using standard income vs happiness adjustment measures (e.g. the value of double someone's income on their happiness) you end up at a much higher number than the RCT results. I think this sort of thing happens pretty consistently and predictability. For example, it would be really easy to imagine Strong Minds treatments are different enough from the most studied ways of doing CBT for the treatment effects to only persist 1 year (which would reduce the cost-effectiveness to about equal), and it's easy to imagine several such changes (almost all going in a more pessimistic direction).

On the flip side, there has been extensive research, evaluation and huge numbers of charities founded in the global health space leading to a comparatively very small number of super strong charities, many of which are explicitly focused on cost-effectiveness/impact, etc. This same work (as far as I know) has not been done in the mental health area. In many ways, you are comparing a very strong global poverty charity to a much more average mental health charity. Thus personally I would not necessarily need to see a current mental health charity beating GiveWell’s best to be convinced the area as a whole could be very effective (if some strong research, evaluations and impact focused charities) were founded or identified in the area. Given my current work with Charity Entrepreneurship, the main case I am considering is if a new well researched and impact focused charity in mental health could be competitive with GiveWell top charities in effectiveness. I feel like the posts you have made over time have made this claim seem pretty plausible.

The Importance of Time Capping

2018-12-28T17:02:41.207Z · score: 41 (36 votes)
Comment by joey on Quality of life of farm animals · 2018-12-14T19:29:15.656Z · score: 13 (7 votes) · EA · GW

Our team has fairly recently done pretty similar work to what you are describing. You can see it here

Comment by joey on From humans in Canada to battery caged chickens in the United States, which animals have the hardest lives: results · 2018-12-07T19:33:58.811Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

When we looked at larger groups like fish or bugs we looked for species that were a) more studied and b) more populous. For example, for bugs this tended to be ants, bees, flies, and beetles. Overall though we tried to get a score that we felt would be consistent with “a random unknown bug is killed by an insecticide. What was the welfare score of that bug?”

We only set aside enough time to cover a certain number of animals, and we did not think looking at most regional differences was as important as covering more animals. We will be releasing a table with some specific welfare changes (e.g. animals raised without any physical alterations) which will shed a bit of light on some regional differences. That being said, I expect the broadest level conclusions (e.g. prioritizing fish) to hold across different locations.

Thanks. It indeed looks like that was taken from a report on the breeders.

Comment by joey on Which animals need the most help from the animal advocacy movement? · 2018-12-07T19:32:15.273Z · score: 8 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Wild rat indeed includes rats that live in cities and apartments (as long as they are not domesticated/pet rats). We definitely considered causes of death by humans (which for rats was quite a sizable percentage of their deaths) and our next report is in fact on ethical pest control, including possibilities like more ethical rodenticides and legal changes to move people from sticky to snap traps.

Comment by joey on Which animals need the most help from the animal advocacy movement? · 2018-12-05T20:50:37.280Z · score: 3 (4 votes) · EA · GW

So on #1, there have been some discussions of this but out team was not convinced of the arguments enough to include a factor involving it into our analysis. You can see more here and on the links at the bottom of that post. It would change things quite a bit. We have not done the calculation but off the top of my head I would expect it would impact insects most significantly with other animals moving up or down a category e.g. cows might move to mid but I would not expect them to move to high.

Comment by joey on Which animals need the most help from the animal advocacy movement? · 2018-12-05T20:50:14.866Z · score: 5 (4 votes) · EA · GW

On #2, indeed our research is mostly focused around which charities should be founded in the animal space. That being said, I do think it cross applies. For example, I would far prefer someone to eat beef and give up chicken than the opposite. For giving up different food categories I think it would go something like Fish > Chicken > Eggs > Pork > Beef > Milk > Cheese in order of importance based on both the animal welfare and the amount of animals it takes to form a meal (e.g. 1 chicken or 0.01 cows).

Which animals need the most help from the animal advocacy movement?

2018-12-04T20:29:07.454Z · score: 48 (20 votes)
Comment by joey on From humans in Canada to battery caged chickens in the United States, which animals have the hardest lives: results · 2018-11-29T05:23:01.794Z · score: 8 (6 votes) · EA · GW


In terms of other animals that could be quite net positive, large herbivores and predators at the top of their food chain with relative abundance of food (e.g. elephants, moose, whales and dolphins) would be my guess, but we did not go deep into any of those animals. Some domestic animals (e.g. well treated dogs and cats) also seem plausible to have pretty net positive lives.

High welfare meat - CE ask report

2018-11-22T17:12:14.573Z · score: 12 (6 votes)
Comment by joey on How to make an impact in animal advocacy, a survey. · 2018-11-06T21:14:28.078Z · score: 1 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Sadly I was pretty specific with what data I was going to publish and this is it. I suspect that identities of some people could be determined with the full raw data so can understand why people would not want it published.

Comment by joey on Is it better to be a wild rat or a factory farmed cow? A systematic method for comparing animal welfare. · 2018-10-01T17:01:50.362Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Re:biological markers, the ideal situation would be multiple markers in both the animal in an ideal life vs their current life vs a perfectly unideal life, then scores would be given based on how their current life compares. In practice, sometimes we have found data on a happy life vs a standard life for an animal and can get some sense of how far away these are from each other, but often we have found no applicable data at all for this section. Our reports are very time capped (5 hours or less depending on the importance of the animal), so we do not dive deep into the mechanisms.

Humans from different situations will be ranked as well. I agree having them as a comparative measure for cross-species comparison allows for much easier intuition checks.

Comment by joey on Is it better to be a wild rat or a factory farmed cow? A systematic method for comparing animal welfare. · 2018-09-18T17:22:38.023Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · EA · GW

Examples coming soon. We are currently aiming to have ~15 done and published by 10/7/18. Our full goal of this project is to create a consistent systematic baseline to quantify the benefits of various interventions which would then allows us to compare specific charity ideas and rank what might be the best few to found within the animal movement. is the closest thing to calculating the value of going vegetarian that I know.

Comment by joey on Is it better to be a wild rat or a factory farmed cow? A systematic method for comparing animal welfare. · 2018-09-18T17:22:23.087Z · score: 6 (6 votes) · EA · GW

Yes indeed, that is the next step. We plan on applying this system to ~15 animal situations and doing a 1-5 hour report on each. This would be both for different animals (e.g. wild rat and factory farmed cows) and different welfare situations for the same animal (e.g. a report each for battery caged laying hens vs enriched cage laying hens)

On biological markers specifically, from the research we have done so far, it's very hard to find any consistent biological markers, not to mention situations where we have a bunch that we can cross compare on the same animal. Generally a good score might look like “some cortisol tests have been done on rats in an ideal living situation vs wild rats and the cortisol levels are about the same” where if the same study was done but the cortisol levels were much higher in the wild rats, that would be an indication of lower wild rat welfare.

Comment by joey on Is it better to be a wild rat or a factory farmed cow? A systematic method for comparing animal welfare. · 2018-09-18T17:22:09.156Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks. Fixed.

Comment by joey on How to make an impact in animal advocacy, a survey. · 2018-09-03T16:32:30.155Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

Self-identification and stated values. e.g. some people I spoke for said they were and EA/read Singer etc, others mentioned rights-focused ethics.

Comment by joey on How to make an impact in animal advocacy, a survey. · 2018-08-27T18:09:28.565Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I have changed the word "rights" to "advocacy" to better reflect the content of the post. The survey was not targeted at rights or welfare particularly. It was just getting a sense of the broad EA animal space.

Comment by joey on CEA on community building, representativeness, and the EA Summit · 2018-08-15T20:48:21.869Z · score: 19 (19 votes) · EA · GW

Just wanted to chip in on this. Although I do not think this addresses all the concerns I have with representativeness, I do think CEA has been making a more concerted and genuine effort at considering how to deal with these issues (not just this blog post, but also in some of the more recent conversations they have been having with a wider range of people in the EA movement). I think it's a tricky issue to get right (how to build a cause neutral EA movement when you think some causes are higher impact than others) and there is still a lot of thought to be done on the issue, but I am glad steps are happening in the right direction.

Comment by joey on Problems with EA representativeness and how to solve it · 2018-08-03T22:38:55.624Z · score: 13 (15 votes) · EA · GW

So my personal experience starting a chapter was a long time ago, but what I have heard from people more involved in chapters currently is that there has been social pressure towards focusing on certain cause areas and funding pressure along with it. For example, a sense that chapters are much more likely to get funding, attention, etc, from movement building organizations if they are more far future focused. I think chapters can of course run without any support of any major organization, but the culture of chapters will change if support is more conditional over the long term. As far as I know, no one has been specifically told not to run a chapter based on a different cause focus and I agree this is not the reason most groups start (but it can be a big difference in which groups grow).

Tightly controlled also is in reference to what competing chapter building / movement building organizations would go through to work in the space. For example, the recent post on Leverage is explicitly aimed at caution towards a conference being run under a different organization. I have heard from other organizations about similar frustrations and coordination problems when trying to work in the outreach space.

Comment by joey on Introducing Charity Entrepreneurship: an Incubation and Research Program for New Charities · 2018-06-25T18:14:17.296Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

It is possible we will focus on this in one of our future years.

Comment by joey on Introducing Charity Entrepreneurship: an Incubation and Research Program for New Charities · 2018-06-25T18:14:03.560Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Hey sorry for the slow response on this. I was waiting for some information to be published. I think my estimate would have been much lower before Charity Science Health and Fortify Health both becoming GiveWell incubated. Fortify Health in particular, I think is fairly representative of the program I plan on running, although the future program will likely provide more support than what I was able to give to their team.

Comment by joey on Introducing Charity Entrepreneurship: an Incubation and Research Program for New Charities · 2018-06-06T19:14:02.779Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

6 people will be involved in starting a charity, possibly the same one(s)

Comment by joey on Introducing Charity Entrepreneurship: an Incubation and Research Program for New Charities · 2018-06-06T19:08:47.246Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I would guess a lot of this depends on the number of people you take on. (e.g. if we took 20 people I do not expect we would get 2-6 effective charities.) I also would guess the odds of effective charities being founded if it was not picked from our pre-researched list would be much lower, something closer to 1/10 - 1/20.

Our estimates are mostly based on our experience with charities we have founded/supported in a pretty similar way to the above. I also am unsure how to generalize from for-profit to nonprofit space. I generally think the former is much more competitive.

Comment by joey on Introducing Charity Entrepreneurship: an Incubation and Research Program for New Charities · 2018-06-06T17:42:31.786Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

I expect ~10 people to attend the camp although I do not expect 100% of them will start charities (I would guess ~60% would). Out of charities founded I expect about 50% of them would be GiveWell incubation/ACE recommended. Although it would depend on the year and focus.

Comment by joey on Why EAs in particular are good people to start charities · 2018-05-31T17:45:44.992Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

1) I hope to publish a post soon specifically going into the help I gave fortify health and what help I can give future charities, but I can clarify briefly here. Charity Science Health - I was on the research team to pick the intervention + cofounded + worked full time in a co-ED position for the first 2 years of its existence. Effectively I was involved as much as one could be in a charity. Fortify Health - I was on the research team to pick the intervention + connected the co-founders when one reached out to me + Gave them a seed grant for their first 6 months + helped them in a consulting role ~5 hours a week over those 6 months. Effectively I was like a highly involved board member.

2) I think this is a huge concern, I generally think EA charities should be aiming to be the highest impact charity in a given field. E.g. a lot of the value of CSH comes from the small chance we can be higher impact than AMF. If CSH for example fell between the effectiveness of GD and AMF, CSH would pretty aggressively try to seek funding outside of the EA community (including GW/OPP). This partly to do with “the last dollar spent” in poverty likely being pretty high impact (see this post on talent gaps for more details). In something like AR, given the funding situation I think the more important consideration would be whether a new charity has a good chance of beating the bottom 25% of charities funded by OPP/ACE.

Comment by joey on Employee Giving incentives: A shared database... relevant for EA job-seekers and activists · 2018-05-19T18:01:54.603Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

I have written about this topic before

Personally, what I would find most useful is an up to date spreadsheet list that is sortable by how much the company matches donations (this seems to be the most significant thing companies do on the charity front), so that when I am talking to a job seeker I can send them it and they can easily see what companies offer say 10k+ of matching. You can see from my post in 2013 quite a few offer that or more.

On the broader note of building an evidence based fundraising wiki, is the plan for it to be publicly available and widely shared or more aimed at just the EA community?

Comment by joey on Against prediction markets · 2018-05-14T05:20:20.778Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · EA · GW

A way to frame this question is how do we get the best predictions per least amount of effort, with different strategies having different levels of effort/accuracy of output. A strategy would be considered dominated if a different strategy required both less effort and gave better accuracy. I think a pretty good case can be made for “teams of forecasters working together with their results extremized” cleary requiring less effort and being possibly more accurate or in the same ballpark as prediction markets. If that is the case, I think the argument for setting up/using prediction markets is greatly weakened. It seems like if someone did systematic research into the highest value/least resource consumption predictions, prediction markets would not score at the top of many overall rankings given its high cost. Also some evidence about the high resource cost might be that EAs, although quite excited, driven and intelligent, cannot get a prediction market going with more than a few bets on a given question.

Comment by joey on Why founding charities is one of the highest impact things one can do · 2018-05-14T05:19:01.765Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Would be keen to hear your story as I am working to develop better models around what makes projects have success (particularly nonprofits, but I think all data can be helpful).

1) I think this is fair. I have another post in the works on something along these lines. Super long story short though, a lot of the failures are small projects or at an earlier stage vs more like full scale charities. I think that is a problem/concern in its own right, and I think a pretty good case can be made that established charities should be shut down and considered failures more often.

2) I do think a case can be made that second charities are easier to start than first ones (although I would put Fortify Health as quite distinctive from CSH, as my involvement was quite modest in terms of hours). I still think however, there are lots of examples of first time successes.

3) My understanding of AMF from talking to them is that when making the decision that eventually lead to them choosing bednets, Rob M considered that it had to be 1) really big problems 2) really need help 3) might be fixable, as well as some other connected criteria like not tons of other people working on it. From my understanding, quite a few different interventions were considered (e.g. TB, freshwater, landmines). I do not get the sense it was like GiveWell-style shallow reports, but the concept of doing more good was definitely a big part of the decision making.

Comment by joey on Against prediction markets · 2018-05-13T21:38:26.588Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · EA · GW

I have had a lot of EAs say this to me in person as well.

Comment by joey on Concrete Ways to Reduce Risks of Value Drift · 2018-05-07T15:18:04.745Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Personally, if I were to simplify this post down to top 2 pieces of advice 1) focus on doing good now 2) surround yourself with people who will keep encouraging you to do good long term.

Comment by joey on Concrete Ways to Reduce Risks of Value Drift · 2018-05-06T18:11:43.385Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Say a person could check a box and commit to being vegan for the rest of their lives, do you think that would be a ethical/good thing for someone to do? Given what we know about average recidivism in vegans?

Comment by joey on The Importance of EA Dedication and Why it Should Be Encouraged · 2018-05-06T18:11:33.548Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

"I’m also personally very disappointed by that since high dedication felt like a major asset I could bring to EA. Now I feel more like it doesn’t matter which is discouraging." It’s still very helpful to other dedicated people to know people like you :)

The main movement I am comparing EA to is its younger self, but I think the AR movement also came to mind a lot while writing this post.

I agree that age seems to play a pretty noticeable role, with older movements being wiser but less energetic. I think there might just be some biological mechanism at play, but I also think that in many movements people do "what they can get away with". If I can work 30 hours and my organization is still successful, it’s less motivating to work 60 than if that 30 extra hours will be the make more break. Wisdom gives me more ability to slack on energeticness.

Comment by joey on The Importance of EA Dedication and Why it Should Be Encouraged · 2018-05-06T18:10:43.605Z · score: 1 (3 votes) · EA · GW

I think living in an EA city is one of the strongest cases for spending more money in terms of increasing impact per $ spent. I think it’s the more marginal stuff I am generally careful about (e.g. eating at restaurants).

Comment by joey on The Importance of EA Dedication and Why it Should Be Encouraged · 2018-05-06T05:48:12.853Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

So I am not sure the focus on total output per person vs financial stinginess is so clear. To stick with the Open Phil example, it's not just the max they are willing to fund, it’s the counterfactual of their last donated dollar. For example, if one AR charity takes say x2 what it could run off (focusing on output per person vs frugalness) you would have to factor that counterfactual 50% of the donation going to the last charity that Lewis ends up funding with Open Phil (or maybe the last in that given year). In either of those situations the counterfactuals are definitely not 0. For example, say I personally would be 25% more effective if I was paid 50k vs 100k (x2 salary). I would have to assume my project is x4 better than the counterfactual project Lewis donates to otherwise. This could be true for one AR charity vs another, but I would say it's far from obvious and I will also note I would be quite surprised if the personal gains are that high in most cases of increased salaries, but would be super keen on more data on this.

Comment by joey on Empirical data on value drift · 2018-04-26T17:08:25.184Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

I did not break down the data that way when I made it, but a quick look would suggest ~75% moved from 50% to 10% and drifting was mildly concentrated at the beginning.

Comment by joey on Empirical data on value drift · 2018-04-24T21:59:41.058Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · EA · GW

I agree regarding implementation difficulties, particularly long term ones (e.g. losing a visa for a place you were living in with a big EA community) can muddy the waters a lot. It's hard to get into the details, but I would generally consider someone not drifted if it was a clearly capacity affecting thing (e.g. they got carpal tunnel) but outside of that they are working on the same projects they would have wanted to in all cases.

A more nuanced view might be break it down into: “Value change away from EA” - defined as changing fundamental ethical views, maybe changing to valuing people within your country more than outside of it.. “Action change away from EA” - defined as changing one of the fundamental applications of your still similarly held values. Maybe you think being veg is good, but you are no longer veg due to moving to a different, less conducive living situation.

With short and long term versions of both and with it being pretty likely that “value change” would lead to “action change” over time, I used value drift as a catch-all for both the above. It’s also how I have heard it commonly used as, but I am open to changing the term to be more descriptive.

“As the EA community we should treat people sharing goals and values of EA but finding it hard to act towards implementing them very differently to people simply not sharing our goals and values anymore. Those groups require different responses.”

I strongly agree. These seem to be very different groups. I also think you could even break it down further into “EAs who rationalize doing a bad thing as the most ethical thing” and “EAs who accept as humans that they have multiple drives they need to trade off between”. Most of my suggestions in the post are aimed at actions one could take now that reduce both “action change” and “value change”. Once someone has changed I am less sure about what the way forward is, but I think that could warrant more EA thought (e.g. how to re-engage someone who was disconnected for logistical reasons).

On ii)

Sorry to hear you have had trouble with the EA community and children. I think it's one of the life changes that is generally updated too strongly on by EAs and assuming that a person (of any gender) will definitely value drift upon having children is clearly incorrect. Personally I have found the EAs who I have spoken to who have kids to be unusually reflective about its effects on them compared to other similar life changes, perhaps because it has been more talked about in EA than say partner choice or moving cities. When a couple who plans to have kids has kids and changes their life around that in standard/expected ways, I do not see that as a value drift from their previous state (of planning to have kids and planning to have life changes around that).

I also think people will run into problems pretty quickly if they assume that every time someone goes through a life change that the person will change radically and become less EA. I think I see it intuitively as more of a bayesian prior. If someone has been involved in EA for a week and then they are not involved for 2 weeks, it might be sane to consider the possibilities of them not coming back. On the flip side, if an EA has been involved for years and was not involved for 2 weeks, people would think nothing of it. The same holds true for large life changes. It’s more about the person's pattern of long term of behavior and a combined “overall” perspective.

My list of concerns about a new trend of EA’s “relaying information about opportunities only informally” is so long it will have to be reserved for a whole other blog post.

Comment by joey on Empirical data on value drift · 2018-04-24T16:53:53.815Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Social ties seem quite important, particularly close ones (best friends, partners, close co-workers).

Comment by joey on Empirical data on value drift · 2018-04-24T16:41:24.926Z · score: 25 (25 votes) · EA · GW

So I want to be pretty careful about going into details, but I can mix some stories together to make a plausible sounding story based on what I have heard. Please keep in mind this story is a fiction based off a composite of case studies I’ve witnessed, not a real example of any particular person.

Say Alice is an EA. She learns about it in his first year of college. She starts by attending an EA event or two and eventually ends up being a member of his university chapter and pretty heavily reading the EA forum. She takes the GWWC pledge and a year later she takes a summer internship at an EA organization. During this time she identifies strongly with the EA movement and considers it one of her top priorities. Sadly, as Alice is away at her internship her chapter suffers and when she gets back she hits a particularly rough year of school and due to long term concerns, she prioritizes school over setting the chapter back up, mainly thinking about her impact. The silver lining is at the end of this rough year she starts a relationship. The person is smart and well suited, but does not share her charitable interest. Over time she stops reading the EA content she used to and the chapter never gets started again. After her degree ends she takes a job in consulting that she says will give her career capital, but she has a sense her heart is not as into EA as she once was. She knows a big factor is her boyfriend’s family would approve of a more normal job than a charity focused one, plus she is confident she can donate and have some impact that way. Her first few paychecks she rationalizes as needing to move out and get established. The next few to build up a safe 6 month runway. The donations never happen. There's always some reason or another to put it off, and EA seems so low on the priorities list now, just a thing she did in college, like playing a sport. Alice ends up donating a fairly small amount to effective charities (a little over 1%). Her involvement was at its peak when she was in college and she knows her college self would be disappointed. Each choice made sense at the time. Many of them even follow traditional EA advice, but the endline result is Alice does not really feel she is an EA anymore. She has many other stronger identities. In this story, with different recommendations from the EA movement and different choices from Alice, she could have ended up doing earning to give and donating a large percentage long term or working with an EA org long term, but instead she “value drifted”.

Comment by joey on Empirical data on value drift · 2018-04-23T19:59:15.075Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Indeed. I think there are a whole set of implications of value drift when it comes to movement building, particularity recruiting younger people who will not create huge amounts of good for a while.

Comment by joey on Empirical data on value drift · 2018-04-23T19:56:47.748Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Yes it does, and indeed that is another huge pro of them when compared to a normal savings fund. There are some cons of them often they are cumbersome to first set up and require a fairly large minimum deposit. But overall something I wish more EAs considered.

Comment by joey on Empirical data on value drift · 2018-04-23T19:54:47.572Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

I agree. Other movement data would be interesting. The most relevant data I have seen is various veg rate studies (which generally shows like 80% dropout overall or the average person staying veg ~4 years). e.g.

Comment by joey on When to focus and when to re-evaluate · 2018-03-25T20:35:00.670Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · EA · GW

I am more skeptical about transferable career capital. I tend to see people doing impressive things even in unrelated fields as providing a lot of career capital. E.g. A lot of EAs would hire someone who had done a successful project in another EA cause vs just doing something less related but more transferable. E.g. going into consulting.

Also generally in line with the argument above, I tend to see that doing great focused work leads to better outcomes than “building generalized career capital” with the idea of eventually using it in a high impact direction. The most common outcome I see with EAs doing that is them spending a bunch of time saving/building career capital and then them leaving the EA movement, having caused pretty minimal good in the world. Additionally, doing impressive things in the EA movement is a way to both build career capital and do good at the same time.

That being said, I think it’s somewhat a different question of what to factor in. You might decide after one year that the best thing to do is X (e.g. get a degree) which sets you up better for your next plan revaluation point 4 years later with minimal re-evaluation until you have gotten your degree.

Comment by joey on When to focus and when to re-evaluate · 2018-03-25T20:32:43.314Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · EA · GW

Returns on density of time seems pretty plausible to me and particularly for cognitively intensive projects. Regarding sink in effects, I suspect many of these benefits can be accomplished by working on different aspects within the same overall project. E.g. working on hiring to take a break from cost-effectiveness analysis work when founding a charity.

Comment by joey on When to focus and when to re-evaluate · 2018-03-25T20:31:01.921Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

I did not coin the term. I have heard quite a few EAs talk about the 90/10 principle. I was using it in that context. The idea is you can get 90% of the benefits of many projects with only 10% of the effort.

Comment by joey on Founders Pledge is seeking a Community Manager · 2018-03-08T18:52:35.812Z · score: 13 (13 votes) · EA · GW

Personally I am not really a fan of job postings being put on this forum. Between all the different EA organizations it would be pretty easy for every second post to be a job ad, and I think that would weaken the forum content for most users. The "Effective Altruism Job Postings" group does a pretty good job at consolidating all jobs that are EA relevant in a central space without cluttering up a space like this.

Comment by joey on How scale is often misused as a metric and how to fix it · 2018-02-04T21:08:38.710Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Thanks, David. Your interpretation is indeed what I was trying to get across.

Comment by joey on The almighty Hive will · 2018-01-29T20:24:18.394Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · EA · GW

Some thoughts on a few of these. I think that EA social safety nets already exist for many people, but it’s not formal in the way you laid out. It’s more based on specific connections and accomplishments. More or less each individual organization and donor has an implicit reputation system that is based on complex and organization/donor specific criteria. Some people will end up fitting multiple positive reputation systems which will give them more safety nets than someone who falls into a few or none. The system is of course dynamic so if you did fall into a category but then your reputation lowered (say by not doing anything that impressive over a long period of time) you could lose a safety net. Additional factors that affect how many safety nets you have in EA also relate to cost. It’s easy to provide a $10k safety net than a $100k safety net. You can imagine why donors/orgs would generally like this system better instead of funding an EA who scores high enough on community agreed on criteria. They could directly fund/support/loan etc someone who directly does well on their criteria.

To put this into a more practical perspective, I would expect that an EA with a strong enough reputation would be able to get support for a while doing entrepreneurship without getting insta-VCed. Likewise, the bar would be lower for a low/no interest loan. I think a case could be made that the system is ineffective or in-groupy and misses people who it should not. However, I think it’s worth acknowledging that informal systems like this definitely exist, so it’s more about the marginal cases who would not get supported by an informal system but would get supported by a formal one. For folks who want to do high risk projects but do not currently have informal connections/safety nets it seems worth considering just building up your reputation. This can be done with pretty low risk things like volunteering part time for an organization.

I agree with the career trajectory points and know that some but definitely not all EAs take this into consideration when determining salary.

Comment by joey on How to get a new cause into EA · 2018-01-15T01:51:43.316Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

So I think we agree on some things and disagree on others. I think that getting large EA organizations to adopt the cause definitely helps but is but is not necessary. Animal rights as a whole, for example, is not mentioned at all on GiveWell or GWWC and it’s listed as a 2nd tier area by 80,000 Hours (, but it is still pretty clearly endorsed by EA as a whole. If by EA orgs you mean EA orgs of any size, I do think that most cause areas that are accepted by the EA movement will get organizations started in it in time. I think that causes like wild animal suffering and positive psychology are decent examples of causes that have gotten some traction without major pre-existing organizations endorsing them. It might also come down to disagreements about definitions of “in EA”.

I almost put your blogs into this post as a positive example of what I wish people would do, but I wanted to keep the post to a lower length. In general, I think your efforts on mental health have updated more than a few EAs in positive directions towards it, including myself. There has been some related external content and research on this topic in part because of your posts and I would put a nontrivial chance on some EAs in the next 1-5 years focusing exclusively on this cause area and starting something in it. In general, I would expect adoption to new causes to be fairly slow and start with small numbers of people and maybe one organization before expanding to be on the standard go-to EA list.

I think if I were to guess what is holding back mental health / positive psych as a cause area it would be having a really strong concrete charity to donate to. By strong charity, I mean strong CEA but also focus on narrow set of interventions, decent evidence base/track record, strong M&E, and decently investigated by an external EA party (would not have to be an org. Could be an individual.) Something like Strong Minds might be a good fit for this.

Comment by joey on Four Organizations EAs Should Fully Fund for 2018 · 2018-01-04T17:08:18.847Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Fixed now :)

Comment by joey on Four Organizations EAs Should Fully Fund for 2018 · 2018-01-01T18:32:52.669Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · EA · GW

Congrats on first post.

You can see our most detailed current plans for the RCT in this concept note or this spreadsheet. We are still nailing down the partners we are working with and the end line budget we will have, so they are subject to some change. We have considered the existing evidence base fairly carefully and you can see our summary of other studies here.

We have estimates at different sample sizes, but generally we are looking in the 5k-20k range of participants dependent on funding and exact study design.

Indeed our code is open source and we would love help on it. We are about to put up a volunteering/internship opportunity to help us with it. You can see the code here.

Sadly clinics would not provide funding for our program, at least not the low income clinics in our target areas. It might be different with private clinics, but they generally target demographics that are less productive to send reminders to (due to having higher baseline vaccination rates)

Comment by joey on Charity Science Health has room for more funding · 2017-12-22T16:55:12.290Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · EA · GW

Yes indeed we do!

Comment by joey on Talent gaps from the perspective of a talent limited organization. · 2017-11-07T14:49:53.977Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · EA · GW

We generally post job ads without specific salaries. 50k is the highest that someone has asked that we have paid. It is not the highest people in late stage interviews have asked (it would range from 10k-100k if we used that criteria). My sense from most of my interviews is that candidates did not have a strong sense of the salary range of CS. We are more public about this now and more well known now than we were for the majority of the interviews I am speaking of.